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Unformatted text preview: THE MILITARY SURGEON VOL. XLV JULY, 1919 NUMBER 1 TYPHOID MARY By Major GEORGE A. SOPER The appearance of the following article in The Military Surgeon has a particular appropriateness in spite of the fact that the history of this remarkable woman has been confined, so far as known, to persons in civil life. It is appropriate for a number of reasons. First, the story, substantially as it appears on these pages, formed an address, which Major Soper delivered before the Surgeons of the Sixth Division to which he was attached as epidemiologist in the Army in 1913. Second, typhoid has been brought under control largely by reason of work done to prevent the very kind of infection, which "Typhoid Mary" produced. Investigation showed that a large part of the typhoid in the Spanish American War was due to contact, and the preventive treatment by inoculation which has been compulsory among United States troops since 1911 has been particularly directed against this method of transmission. And in the present war the disease has been combated not only by attention to sanitation and inoculation, but by examining cooks and other food handlers for the carrier state in order that no person such as "Typhoid Mary" might be allowed to spread infectious material even among those who were immunized against it. Since "Typhoid Mary" was discovered, the whole problem of carriers in relation to infectious diseases has assumed an immense importance, an importance which is recognized in every country where effective public health work is done and in every army where communicable disease has been brought under control. The literature of typhoid now contains many examples of the carrier state such as "Typhoid Mary" exhibited; there have been some carriers who have produced more cases, but it is safe to say that it has fallen to the lot of no person to give by example a more striking lesson of the need of personal precautions in the control of disease than has been afforded by this remarkable woman. Her interesting history contains lessons which should be carefully heeded by everybody, whether in the Army or out of it. Surgeon General, U. S. Army. THIS is the story of the cook who produced a series of epidemics of typhoid fever and was finally discovered and locked up by the New York City Department of Health. Her general history up to that point is widely known, although few details of it can be given by most persons. Her history after her arrest forms a fitting climax to her career. How she disappeared, produced more typhoid and was caught again, is now set down for the first time. The great amount of attention which the case has received is due entirely to the natural interest which it possesses. The ease has never been exploited for the dramatic elements which it contains, although these fairly crowd one another throughout the narrative. The circumstances of Typhoid Mary's discovery were simply announced be-fore the Biological Society of Washington, D. C., April 6, 1907, in a brief paper. This paper Biological Society of Washington, D....
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This note was uploaded on 09/22/2008 for the course BIO 118 taught by Professor Bender during the Spring '08 term at University of Michigan.
- Spring '08